Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Please, have a seat. Have a seat. Well, look, it is wonderful to see you, all of you. Obviously, I want to start off by thanking the whole Watts family for their incredible hospitality. It's Mikal's birthday, so I hope everybody has wished him a happy birthday. And, Tammy, congratulations for putting up with him for this long. [Laughter]
A couple of other people I have to acknowledge: First of all, one of our great public servants, somebody who is battling on behalf of selling American products and American goods all across the country, but who lost some money this weekend because I partnered with him in golf—[laughter]—Ron Kirk is here.
In addition, obviously, your outstanding mayor, Julian Castro is here. Congressman Charlie Gonzalez is in the house. Former HUD Secretary and all around good guy, Henry Cisneros is here. Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa is in the house. And one of our national cochairs and a dear friend, Eva Longoria is here.
So in settings like this I usually don't like to give a long speech. I just had a terrific event over at the convention center. What I'd like to do is spend most of my time just having a conversation with all of you and answering questions, taking suggestions.
But I will tell you that although Texas is not quite a battleground State, the issues that face the country are obviously as relevant here as they are anywhere. And right now we've got two stark choices, two fundamentally different visions about where to take the country.
You've got my opponent, his allies in Congress, allies here in the Lone Star State, who believe that the way you grow an economy, the way to achieve prosperity, is from the top down, and a recipe of more tax cuts that benefit a lot of folks in this room, including myself, and elimination of rules and regulations that protect consumers—from polluters and unscrupulous lenders or reckless behavior on Wall Street—that that's the recipe for success, that's where we need to go.
I've got a different vision. It's a vision that I fought for in 2008—and some of you joined me—a vision we're still fighting for, that I've been fighting for since I got into office. It's a vision that says the Government can't solve every problem and shouldn't try, but it is a vision that says what makes this country great is the fact that anybody, anywhere, if they work hard enough and are willing to take responsibility, they can make it.
And there are some ingredients that we invest in as a country and as a community to make sure that the ladders of opportunity exist: a great education system, a great transportation and infrastructure system, investments in basic science and research. Investments in the kind of safety net that encourages work, but also says that if you have a string of bad luck, or if somebody in your family is disabled, or when you finally, after lifelong work, retire, that you can live a life of dignity and respect, and an approach to our deficits and debt that says everybody does their fair share.
And that was my commitment even before I ran for office and that we've fought for the last 3½ years—we've got a long way to go. There are still way too many people who are out of work, too many homes that are still underwater across the country, too many small businesses that are struggling.
But in addition to making sure that we didn't fall into a great depression, we've tried to systematically—whether it's the health care bill, whether it's our approach to expanding access to college education for young people, whether it is putting in place rules and regulations to protect from the kind of chaos of Wall Street that we saw in 2007, 2008—everything we've done has been designed to fulfill that goal of making sure that we're building a strong middle class and we're continuing to create avenues of opportunity for those who are working hard to get into the middle class.
Now, this is going to be a close election. I don't think there's any doubt about that, not because the other side has particularly new or interesting ideas, but because the economy is still struggling for a lot of folks. And as a consequence, your help, your support is going to be critical. But I'm optimistic about our prospects of being able to finish what we started in 2008. And the reason I'm optimistic is because what the American people showed me in 2008 is that when they determine what is true and what is right and they come together, it doesn't matter how much money the special interests spend, it doesn't matter how many television ads are run, ultimately—[inaudible].
And I think one of the great privileges of being President is as I travel around the country and meet people from all walks of life—every race, every region, every faith—there's a core decency to the American people, a basic goodness and grit and determination of the American people, that gives me great confidence about our future.
So I just want to say to all of you, thank you for your extraordinary support. Again, thanks to the Watts family for hosting us. And I guarantee, if all of you stay with me and keep on working hard for the next 4 months, then I'm going to have the next—another 4 years to do the work that needs to be done.